The sounds of the Brunswick Big Band soothed the crowd on the first night of the 37th Annual North Carolina Fourth of July Festival. Forty to fifty thousand people are expected to attend this year's festivities. "It's just beautiful to sit out here on the river with the breeze and everybody's so friendly,” said Judi Brittain. “Southport is a wonderful place to have a Fourth of July festival." There is something for everyone, whether you prefer taking it easy by the water, listening to music, getting some exercise, or eating. Antoine Price attended the festival and said, "It's actually a great event, all the families come around from out of town for fireworks and food. Everybody is having a good time." Vendors said the opening day crowd was a bit bigger than last year's, and hope that trend continues throughout the weekend. "We were expecting it to be a little bit down, but we're going to push to at least beat last year or do comparable," said vendor Becky Pritchard. Thursday was just a warm-up for the vendors - the big crowds are still to come. The parade starts at 11:00 Saturday morning. The fireworks are at 9:00 Saturday night.
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